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Itemizer-Observer

FALLS CITY — In a 3-2 vote, the Falls City City Council appointed TJ Bailey to fill the seat vacated when former councilor David Radke was removed after missing too many meetings.

Bailey has been a resident of Falls City for two years and is a special education teacher at Central High School. He’s served as an athletic director for two school districts in the past.

In addition to Bailey, two others were interviewed for the seat on Jan. 20: Charlie Flynn, who served on the council previously, and Sherrell Sears. Councilors Lori Jean Sickles, Dennis Sickles and Tony Meier voted for Bailey, while Cliff Lauder and Jennifer Drill cast their votes for Sears.

Bailey will serve until the end of this year, and can chose to run for election in November. He said he was interested in applying for the seat because he grew up in a small town, and wanted to get more involved.

“I really saw how local government impacted our citizens in a positive way, and that’s what I would like to do,” Bailey said during interviews with the council.

He said he has no municipal government experience, but with 20 years in special education, has had to help find solutions to complicated problems. Bailey said that experience will be valuable to him as a city councilor.

“My whole career has been about having difficult conversations,” he said.

Bailey said he believed updating infrastructure, notably the sewer system, is a major hurdle the city will have to clear soon. The city is in the process of securing land and grants to pay for a new sewer plant.

He said if that is not done, the city would have difficulties developing more housing and attracting businesses.

“I’ve heard that there’s been some great gains and progress made towards that,” he said. “I would love to be on the (council) to help continue that process and progress, so that we can actually bring in more families and yet still keep that small community feeling.”

Bailey mentioned throughout the interview the importance of getting more people involved in the community, particularly young people.

“I would like to spearhead a way to get our kids involved in our community,”

“Really get our youth involved so that they become an active member of our community, because they really are the future to sustain Falls City and continue what we are doing right now.”

He added that it’s unfortunate that it’s the same group of people organizing and attending city functions, and he would like to find a way to get more residents interested.

Part of that is us just getting out there and letting them know this is what is coming down the pike and getting everybody involved,” he said.

Bailey said with effort and leadership, Falls City can develop into a place more people want to live and play.

“Falls City is one of those gems that nobody knows about and it just needs a little shining right now. We are have an opportunity to really build up this community,” he said. “The potential is so great. It’s just getting that word out there.”

Mayor Jeremy Gordon thanked all three candidates for participating in the interview and reminded them that seats on the council are up for election in November.

“I really, really enjoyed listening to all of your answers. These sorts of conversations are fun: What is the future, what are our challenges, how can we solve those challenges?” Gordon said. “I appreciate you all wanting to be a part of that.”

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